Wind blew in the background, not loudly enough that I had any difficulty understanding his words, but loud enough that I knew it was there.
“It’s been a while since we last talked.” Daniel’s dad’s tenor voice came over the phone. “Ordinarily I wouldn’t have called you this early, but my wife assured me that you were up.”
Daniel’s mother wasn’t as strong a telepath as his father. Most of her abilities only worked on people who were asleep, but under the right conditions, there was no known limit to her range. If she said someone was awake, you could assume she was right.
“I’m up. I’ve been up for a little while. I was discussing last night with my roommate. I’m guessing that’s why you called.”
“You’d be right,” he said. “I’m on the way into work and thought I’d debrief you. I’m assuming the roommate is the one my son blocked last fall, right?”
I glanced at Jeremy. He’d looked up from his phone to stare at me, mouthing the words, “Who is it?” Ignoring him, I said, “Right.”
“Good, then I’ve got some questions.” Following that, David Cohen, Esq. alias Mindstryke of the Midwest Defenders and member of the Heroes’ Leagues’ board, proceeded to walk me through every piece of the action and the interrogation that followed in mind-numbing detail. While on the one hand, that’s exactly what you’d expect of a superhero and former prosecutor, it wasn’t in the least bit fun, and I felt grateful when he said, “I’m about to land at the Defenders headquarters, and I don’t have any more questions. Consider yourself free.”
Sitting up in my desk’s chair, I said, “Great,” probably with more enthusiasm than he was expecting.
“I know,” he said. “That was a miserable experience, but I needed to know what we’re up against. For the record, I’m glad you didn’t talk to the press. I wish Kid Biohack had been smart enough to keep his fight with Syndicate L’s lackey out of the public’s awareness. The police will put up with a lot when they’re not forced to publicly acknowledge that it happened. Now you’ll be under increased scrutiny whatever you do.”
“I got that impression. All I’ve done so far today is talk about it, and I haven’t even had breakfast yet.”
He laughed. “I’m sorry. I’m sure you’ve got a long day, and this is a terrible way to start it, but I should tell you one more thing. Kid Biohack’s from the San Diego compound, and he’s a Stapledon graduate. If the team treats him too badly, you’ll alienate important people, and you don’t want to alienate anyone you don’t have to.”
I meanwhile stared out the window toward campus. “He’s a Stapledon graduate? He doesn’t seem that…” I trailed off, trying to find the right word.
“Competent?” Mr. Cohen suggested. “Even as recently as three years ago, the Stapledon program wasn’t what it is now. Even though it taught real skills, it was mostly a way to keep rich kids with powers out of trouble until their parents could train them for real. Some of us have been working to change the program. Power juice in combination with the alien invasion gave us what we needed.”
“When did he graduate?” Below my window, students were walking to the dining halls or class.
The sound of wind ended with the sound of a door shutting in the background. “The year before you started. You won’t have to work too hard to find out who he is knowing that. Be careful. I’ll talk to you later.”
Before he hung up, Guardian’s voice said, “How many do we still have to talk to?”
Mr. Cohen said, “I caught up with Night Cat and the Rocket—”
And that’s when the connection cut off. On the whole, that wasn’t good news. At least two Heroes’ League board members were debriefing everyone involved with what happened last night. Meanwhile, Kid Biohack was better connected than we’d realized, and possibly tied in with possible futures where we, the current League, would mostly get killed.
I was almost convinced that Mr. Cohen intended me to hear that to underscore his point.
Jeremy’s voice knocked me out of my thoughts. “So who was it?”
He shook his head.”So the Midwest Defenders are watching out for you? A lot of people expect that. They’ve got at least two former Heroes’ League members—Guardian and Mindstryke. They might have more on the reserve roster.”
“It’s more complicated than that. I probably shouldn’t go into it.”
Jeremy raised his hands. “No problem. The more I know, the less I can speculate on in forums anyway.”
My phone rang again. I checked the ID. It was Kayla. I answered.
“There’s a phone conference with Lt. Van Kley at 4:30 in the afternoon.”
I sighed. I’d known that was coming already last night, but now it was just one more thing and probably a rehash of what I’d already been told.
Or worse, maybe it wouldn’t be.